Archive for June, 2009

Coup d’etat in Honduras. Political crisis in Niger

June 29, 2009

For about a month Niger has been in a political crisis where the president has tried to seek a constitutional amendment enabling him to stand for a third term.  This move has been criticised by the opposition and obstructed by the supreme court. In a response to this President Mamadou Tandja has dissolved the parliament, called for new elections and in a recent move taken extraordinary powers to rule the country by decree.

This is a serious blow to the democratic rule, in function for 10 years in Niger. What the outcome of the election will be is uncertain but there is an obvious risk that the president will try to consolidate his power with a strong and perhaps disputed support in the chamber.

 

Similar to the situation in Niger but with a different outcome president Manuel Zelaya has been deposed in a coup d’etat in Honduras. Also seeking a new term in office by holding a referendum on constitutional changes, Zelaya met fierce opposition from both army, opposition and in his own party. The coup has allegedly taken place on the initiative of the supreme court, as the referendum was seen as illegitimate.

Both Niger and Honduras has resolved a political deadlock by an unconstitutional and from a democratically unacceptable way. Both actions shall be responded by criticism from the international community. But if these would be the only possible solutions from such a deadlock, what WOULD be the most acceptable one?

My personal view is that the situation in Honduras proves more likely to maintain constitution and democracy in the long run than Niger.  Both presidents has in violation to the constitution or court ruling seek a new term, if the proposed referendums wouldn’t be in accordance with the constitution, to keep the constitutional order the president must resign.

Therefore it is more acceptable with a short-lived military/provisional government in Honduras awaiting fresh presidential elections than a continued presidency under a presidential coup in violation to all constitutional order which may be the case in Niger.

 

The coup in Honduras has met criticism from both USA, UN and the world community. Still it was taken place in an orderly way and not by any specific interest than keeping the institutional order.  As the order was from the supreme court there is a form of civil and institutional coup. In order with the constitution the speaker of the house has taken office as provisional/interim president. The installation took place in presence of the parliament which determines the restored and continued political order. As the coup obviously has the support of the vast political establishment in Honduras, there are no clear signs of concern about the continued democracy.  On the other hand the new administration has pledged that the planned presidential election will take place in November and a constitutional president will take office from January, thereby conclude the normalisation of the political order in Honduras.

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State of emergency in Somalia, post-election protests in Iran.

June 29, 2009

A state of emergency has been declared in Somalia due to the increasing fighting in and around Mogadishu. The provisional government has clearly not enough military power to hold the al-shahab rebels away. Recent developments involves killing of several high rank politicians such as a minister and members of the parliament. The government has introduced stronger elements of sharia law to appeal to the rebels, including the principle of cutting hands and legs for theft. So far this has not made the rebels to halt its fighting.

The government has then called on the international community, AU and Ethiopia to back up for stronger assistance to restore order. AU will probably increase its presence in Somalia, but should also change its mandate to be more effective. Their mandate has so far only been to use force when attacked otherwise standing as a principally peacekeeping force. Stronger capacity is most likely needed to restore order in Somalia. The provisional government has further received arms from US as a support to fight the rebels.  

The declaration of a State of emergency (equals martial law) has made a change of Somalias political status, from the previous Interim/Uni-Revolutionary to a sole Uni-Recvolutionary status.

 

 

For more than a week now massive demonstrations has taken place in Iran as a protest against the official win of Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections. Supporters of opposition candidate Mousavi has staged rallies in a scale not been seen in Iran since the Islamic revolution 1979. There is an obvious miscontent and criticism against the Islamic leadership, especially among the urban, educated and young population. Even though Ahmadinejad has a significant support in the rural districts of Iran and the poorer population, the protests shows a clear division in the country which will make it hard for a continued conservative rule to unite the country again. The demographic of Iran will make the younger generation even more important in the years to come and probably increase the demands for political reforms.

The answer and repression of the Islamic leadership makes international criticism justified. Even though it is clear that some forms of irregularities has taken place in the vote, there has not been any impartial monitors able to determine the election as fraud as a whole. Still the election was monitored and controlled by the Islamic leadership and hence not fully impartial either.

Iran has not been considered either a semi-authoritarian or a limited democratic state. According to the outcome of this election this will probably not change. Unless the protests results in a political change of course.

Omar Bongo reported alive, Election in Lebanon

June 8, 2009

Gabon president Omar Bongo is claimed to be still alive, according to sources in the gabonese government. The truth abourt this is at this point unclear, but the condition of the president is most certainly grave and a political transition to an acting president is likely a fact.  This kind of diversed information was also the case when zambian president Levi Mwanawesa died last year, his actual death was later confirmed.

Yesterday elections were held to the lebanese parliament, in a reportedly close race between the pro-western coalition March 14 led by Saad Harariri, and a Hezbollah dopminated bloc supported by Iran and Syria.  It is with satisfaction we find that the liberal alliance ias reported to have succeeded by taking 71 of 128 seats. A victory for the Hezbollah-bloc(taking 57 seats) would have been a threat to Lebanons friendly ties with the vast part of the world community. Still the opposition represents such a large minority of the population that some form of concilation is wanted to ensure future safety and peace in the country. One must take a firm stand against Syrian and Iranian involvment in lebanese politics, yet at the same time try to establish a lasting peaceful relation for the sake of the lebanese people.Lebanon  remains by this election the democratic state it has been for the past decades, and with no change of its political status

Dearth of Omar Bongo

June 7, 2009

The longtime serving president and dictator of Gabon, Omar Bongo has died. Taking office in 1967 replacing former president Leon Mba, Bongo has made Gabon a strongly authoritarian state.  The African wave of democratisation in the early 90s did only affect Gabon in a minor way by allowing a multiparty system. In practise the rule of the regime has never really been challenged. The death of Bongo opens up a chance for a more liberal political rule, even though it is expected that his son will succeed in the same position. Hopefully yet leading to democratic reforms. The speaker of the parliament Guy Nzouba-Ndama is at this early point appointed acting president. Representing same strongly dominating party, Parti democratique Gabonnaise the new status of Gabon is defined by a decentralisation of power from president to party or parliament at a provisional state. The dominance of PDG still makes Gabon authoritarian.

 As Fidel Castro left the politics in 2006 Bongo took over as the longest serving executive political leader of the world, by now this position will be held by even more authoritarian Libyan leader Khaddaffi who came to power in September 1969.

On West Africa.

June 6, 2009

Today the presidential elections were expected to be held in Mauritania. Thankfully this poll has been postponed to mid-july. Initially the opposition boycotted the vote due to the candidacy of current provisional military leader Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz. This would have been a major setback for the hopes of a democratic transition in Mauritania, as the lack of an opposition candidate would have undermined the legitimacy of the poll.

Now an agreement has been reached where the incumbent leader has agreed to withdraw his candidacy and the opposition is back in the election.  By this we once more can hope of a democratic restoration in Mauritania, even though this election does only affect the presidency. As far as I know the old and democratically elected parliament is still in function or at least acts extra-parliamentary.

This agreement may make a change of status in Mauritania to a provisional and interim status possible.

 

Two more countries in West Africa is now in a much similar situation, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, with provisional or military rule awaiting elections. The forthcoming election in Guinea-Bissau is disturbed by serious conflicts between the military and political leaders.

The presidential election, called after the assassination of President Vieira in March is expected to be held on June 28.  Baciro Dabo, a minister and candidate for this election was now assassinated amid an alleged coup conspiracy.  This leaves the domestic situation grave and the whereabout of the election uncertain, as it may be postponed. The role of the military in the country makes Guinea-Bissau a much unstable democracy. To maintain the democratic system over a long period one should tackle the obvious conflicts in the country and in the long term reduce the role of the military to make the government more civil.

 

Since longtime President Lansana Conte died in December Guinea has also been governed by a military junta. The previously long delayed parliamentarian elections are now expected to be held in October. As Conte is no longer a power figure in Guinea the chances of a democratic and transparent elections are higher, there are also a number of parties competing in the election. Later, in December there will also be held a Presidential election which hopefully will conclude the transition of Guinea to a restored constitutional and democratic rule.  It must be said that Guinea under the rule of Lansana Conte was for a long time strongly authoritarian and that democratic traditions are not rooted in the country. Still it has proven in many cases of democratisations before that a will and ambition to establish a democratic system can make it fortunate. Nearby Mauritania is an example of a  struggeling democratic example where a setback has occurred. Thanks to the will and ambitions in that country there is yet new efforts to establish democracy despite conflicts and the significant role of the military. Two factors that are necessary to work on for a long-lasting and stable democracy.

Greenland poll

June 3, 2009

The opposition in Greenland has most likely won the elections yesterday and will form a government to implement the Home Rule determined in last years referendum.  Left wing Inuit Ataqatigiit fails to win an outright majority but with 14 out of 31 seats. Minor parties besides longtime governing social democratic Siumut are on the other hand conservative or liberal, whether one of these can support a socialist government remains to be seen. A more likely outcome can be a continued coalition with Siumut, however this time with IA as leading party.

As Greenland moves to strong autonomy the ties with Denmark will get significantly looser. Internal affairs will be in the hands of the local government. Foreign affairs and defence policies remains in danish control. The strongest obstacle to full independence is of the economic matter, where Greenland has been subsided from Denmark to boost an economy dominated by fisheries.

Genuine democracy in The Maldives

June 2, 2009

This may Maldives has transferred to be a new genuine democracy of the world. This due to succesful parliamentary elections with a fair distribution of seats between the government and opposition. Using a westministerian “first-past-the-post” method of voting a clear two party system has emerged.

Long lasting dictatorship Maldives began its transformation to democracy last fall when incumbent president Gayoom was defeasted in the presidential elections.  The country has since then been a provisional democratic state, and will by this election have the transition concluded.

Election in South Ossetia

June 1, 2009

Election held in South Ossetia, however illegitimate and not in accordance to democratic standards, does anyway likely change the political status of South Ossetia slightly to the better. South Ossetian politics has previously been virtually in the absolute control of president Kokotyi. The activity or summoning of the parliament has been in doubt.

As this newly elected assembly will convene, however from an authoritar

 

 

 

The election is without a doubt disputed and unfair towards oppositional parties, one should acknowledge the reasonable fact that a territory made up of 70.000 inhabitants that today is very homogenely ossetians. From a nationalistic point of view and as an act of secession towards Georgia, president Kokotyi does probably have a significant support among the population.

 

This does still not legitimise the repression and apparent fraud of this election.

 

As South Ossetia is a de facto independent state since Russia as a protector state recognises it, one shall consider it as such in practise. The Sum is that when the new parliament is convening South Ossetia will transfer from Sub-Absolutism to *Sub-Hierarchial* and in democratic point an increase by 29 from 8 to 37